Yvonne Rainer

Interview with Yvonne Rainer, 1990 September 12 and 2006 October 24
Interview with Yvonne Rainer, 1990 September 12 and 2006 October 24

Yvonne Rainer (b. 1934) is a dancer, choreographer, filmmaker, and co-founder, in 1962, of the highly influential Judson Dance Theater in New York. After studying at the Martha Graham School and with Merce Cunningham, she began to choreograph works through which she could challenge traditional notions of dance performance. Most notably in Trio A (first performed in 1968 as part of the larger work The Mind is a Muscle), Rainer utilized a flow of mundane movements to complicate the performer/audience relationship and to draw attention to the body as a functional object—a strategy that finds its parallels in Minimalism. Her work in the 1970s, increasingly film-based, became more oriented toward content and context while still maintaining a focus upon form. Her Film About A Woman Who... (1974) drew attention to the place of women in a male-dominated society. Later films, such as Privilege(1990), have continued this theme, with treatments of menopause and aging, breast cancer, and homosexuality. They repeatedly demonstrate Rainer’s belief in the importance of presenting the female body and the female voice through the critical and self-identifying eye of the female artist.

Further Reading

Lambert-Beatty, Carrie. Being Watched: Yvonne Rainer and the 1960s. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2008.

Rainer, Yvonne. Feelings are Facts: A Life. The MIT Press Writing Art Series. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2006.

———. A Woman Who--: Essays, Interviews, Scripts. PAJ Books. Art ₊ Performance. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.

———. Work 1961-73. Halifax, N.S. : Press of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design; New York: New York University Press: 1974.

Sachs, Sid, Yvonne Rainer, and Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery. Yvonne Rainer: Radical Juxtapositions 1961-2002. Philadelphia, PA: University of the Arts, 2003.